VPN and Mobile Browsing

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VPN: European Mindset

The leading motivations for Europeans in regard to why they use VPNs are to obtain access to better entertainment content and to remain anonymous while browsing the internet. For users in parts of Europe, such as Germany and France, and the United States, they expect VPNs to protect their privacy from various sources while they are online.

VPN Usage

  • In Europe, VPNs have a 24% usage rate among nations located in the region, according to the 2020 Global VPN Usage Report published by Top10VPN and GlobalWebIndex. This represents the smallest usage rate amongst all regions in the worlds.
  • By contrast, North America and the United States have a slightly higher VPN usage rate of around 25% each. However, European nations such as Switzerland (28%), Portugal (27%), Ireland (27%), Romania (27%), and Sweden (26%) have higher VPN usage rates than the United States. Germany and France have VPN usage rates of 23% and 20% respectively.

Perceptions of VPNs

  • In both Europe and North America, including the United States, it is widely perceived that VPNs are a necessary tool to roam the internet anonymously. In Germany alone, nearly half (44%) of VPN users show interest in the tool for this reason.
  • American adults that utilize VPNs in some form perceive them as being very useful. At least 50% of this group believe that their VPN service is very effective, and another 46% of American adults say it is somewhat effective.
  • Also, most American adults that do not use VPNs perceive them as being used for either good (37%) or neutral (34%) purposes. About 22% of non-VPN users in the United States view them as being too expensive.

Why VPNs Are Used

  • One of the top motivations for why individuals in most European countries use VPNs is to gain access to entertainment content (38%), followed by remaining anonymous while searching through the internet (37%).
  • The top motivations for people in France and Germany, as of the year 2017, is to remain anonymous while online, with 41% and 45% respectively. According to a recent report published by VPN Mentor, around 65% of Germans and 60% of French citizens have concerns regarding their government spying on them, compared to 80% of people in the United States.
  • In the United States, some of the top reasons why people use VPNs are to safeguard their privacy while on public WiFi networks (51%), anonymously browse the internet (44%), communicate more securely (37%), visit restricted torrent/download/streaming websites (23%), access superior entertainment content (22%), access services/files/websites while at work (22%), bypass bandwidth throttling (21%), hide their browsing activity from their government (20%), access censored sites and content (18%), obtain discounts or deals while shopping online (18%), and visit a Tor browser (14%).
  • In North America, including the United States, 10% of citizens admitted that they switched to using VPNs to safeguard their online privacy between 2017 and 2018. That percentage figure is the same for those in Europe who switched to using VPNs for online privacy (10%) during that same time frame.

Expectations of What VPNs Provide

  • Expectations in Europe of what VPNs provide include offering a pathway to better entertainment content, as well as allowing them to perform actions online while remaining anonymous.
  • Comparatively, in the United States, American have several expectations when it comes to virtual private networks. As outlined above, some expectations among the group for what VPNs should provide include the ability to gain protection on public WiFi networks, browse the internet anonymously, access better entertainment content, avoid bandwidth throttling, access discounts/deals when doing online shopping, and access a Tor browser.
  • Other expectations among VPN users in the United States are to be able to communicate more securely, access services/files/websites while working, safeguard their browsing activity from the U.S. government, visit sites and content that is censored, and gain access to torrent/download/streaming sites that are restricted.
  • Up to 67% of Europeans are concerned about their online privacy. In France, Germany, and the United States, there is significant concern among citizens regarding their privacy online, with 69%, 68%, and 78% of internet users stating this for those nations. Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that when considering VPNs, they expect them to safeguard their online privacy.

Research Strategy:

Although there is an abundance of information available regarding the mindset of European and American VPN users, there is limited data in the public domain on the perceptions of VPNs by Europeans. For this information, we thoroughly reviewed a number of studies and surveys from various institutions, research groups, organizations, VPN companies and resources, etc. such as Top10VPN, CIGI Security, and VPN Mentor, among others. While we were able to find information on topics like why European citizens use VPNs, VPN usage in Europe, and expectations of what VPNS provide, there were no insights on their perceptions of VPNs. Additionally, we came across perceptions of VPNs by American adults, but there was nothing in the public domain for European adults on this matter.

We also explored different articles and reports from reputable news and media organizations and blog sites, as well as companies and entities that operate within the space, hoping that they would provide data on the European perception of VPNs. These included Comparitech and GlobalWebIndex, among many others. Again, we did not find information on the perception of VPNs, but we did come across details on their expectations and motivations.

Furthermore, we sought sources published prior to the standard time frame of 24 months from the current date, believing that we would be able to find information from older sources. However, this research strategy did not yield the results we were seeking. We mostly found listings of the best VPNs for those traveling through or visiting Europe.